Day 1 – Fly USA to Auckland
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price.
Day 2 – Cross the International Date Line
Cross the International Date Line, an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North to the South Pole - and defines one calendar day from the next. Crossing the International Date Line adds one day (24 hours) traveling west, and subtracts one day (24 hours) traveling east.
Day 3 – Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand
Once you clear customs and immigration, you will meet your drive at the pre-charted counter. You will then be transferred via private vehicle to your city accommodation.SKYCITY Grand Hotel, Auckland
Indulgent, comfortable and stylish--you'll want for nothing in one of Skycity Grand Hotel's 312 superbly appointed guest rooms. A range of room sizes and configurations ensures that, from the presidential entourage to the footloose individual, every requirement is amply accommodated. Enjoy some of Auckland's best restaurants at the hotel, including contemporary Japanese cuisine, Italian fare made with seasonal ingredients, and classic local specialties.America's Cup Sailing Experience
The America's Cup is the world's oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy and ultimate yachting regatta. Usually the domain of billionaires and elite professional yachties, NZL 40 and NZL 41 offer the unique opportunity for everyone to participate sailing on these grand prix racing machines.
Passengers become the crew and are encouraged to take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action as we sail down the Auckland Harbour. The trip suits people of all experiences and abilities and is the perfect activity in Auckland, 'City of Sails'.Starting Accommodation:
Day 4 – Auckland Maori Private Tour
Experience Auckland with a local Maori, who will guide you around this fantastic city and region, providing information about its interesting history, places and people throughout the tour. See this magnificent city with its 48 volcanoes, as well as the amazing West Coast with a Maori guide as your host.
Experience some of New Zealand's finest scenery in the Auckland region and explore historic sites and learn more about the fascinating Maori culture and history along the way. Walk on the crater's edge of an ancient volcano and learn about Maori myths and legends that accompany many of the special places you visit. Discover dramatic cliff tops, stormy seas, unique black sand beaches and much more on the famous 'Wild West Coast'. Gain an insider's view into Maori Culture through your Maori guide, see Takarunga (Mount Victoria) in Devonport, where significant Maori chief Patuone is buried and see Tamaki Drive, one of the world's most beautiful city drives with sweeping views across the Waitemata Harbour.
After your tour, you will be transferred to the Auckland Ferry Terminal for your ride over to Waiheke Island. This stunning island just off the Auckland coast boasts 92 square kms of beautiful beaches, vineyards, olive groves, native bush and laid back seaside villages. It's a great day out from Auckland as well as a superb holiday destination or a weekend getaway.The Boatshed Boutique Hotel
The Boatshed offers chic luxury accommodation on Waiheke Island, sitting just above the bay and white sandy beaches of Oneroa. It is a hip, boutique hotel, with a casual and elegant atmosphere, that works in perfect harmony with its seaside location.Starting Accommodation:
Day 5 – Waiheke Island Paradise Tour
The Waiheke Island Paradise tour is for the truly discerning wine fan! Todays experience includes ferry transportation to and from Waiheke Island, all on-island transportation, three winery tastings and lunch with wine at a renowned restaurant.
Journey on your guide, Phil's premium Waiheke wine tour - to taste wines at three premium boutique Waiheke vineyards (from: Peacock Sky, Cable Bay, Kennedy Point, and Mudbrick vineyards). Enjoy a relaxed lunch at a renowned 5-star Waiheke restaurant. Soak in the stunning coastal scenery and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere on New Zealand's own Treasure Island of wine and food.Starting Accommodation:
Day 6 – Auckland to Christchurch
Today you will depart Waiheke Island via ferry to Auckland. From there, you will travel to the Auckland Airport for your flight into Christchurch.
A driver will meet you at baggage claim where you will be transferred to your Christchurch accommodation.Otahuna Lodge
Otahuna Lodge is an intimate retreat offering five suites and two master suites. Each retains architectural features from the 19th century such as ornate original fireplaces, carved inglenooks and stained glass windows. All suites offer super-king beds, fine custom-made linens, toiletries by Penhaligon's of London, deep bathtubs and separate rain showers.
The cuisine of the Lodge celebrates the best of seasonal New Zealand produce, with an emphasis on fresh estate-grown offerings. Dinner is a five-course chef's degustation menu, which changes daily, making use of the best fresh produce and guests' dietary requirements. At dinner, guests may elect to dine communally in the opulent formal dining room. Alternatively, they may retreat to a private table for two in the sunken wine cellar, the intimate library, the drawing room turret, or a location of their choosing.Starting Accommodation:
Day 7 – Akaroa Day Tour
On this amazing tour, visit the extinct volcanoes of Banks Peninsula and view the beautiful harbors & green farmland. Stops are made at scenic places and include morning & afternoon teas and a cheese tasting at the Barry's Bay Cheese Factory. Once at Akaroa, enjoy a shared nature and harbor cruise on the Canterbury Cat. This cruise explores the volcanic harbor and sightings may be made of the world's smallest dolphin - the Hectors Dolphin, NZ Fur Seals and numerous seabirds. If time allows, stroll through the village and along the waterfront, taking in the quaint French charm, which is unique to Akaroa.Starting Accommodation:
(B, L, D)
Day 8 – Wine Trail and City Sights
The afternoon tour departs from your accommodation for a drive through the city center to see the progress of the rebuild following the 2010/2011 earthquakes. Your guide will discuss the reasons for the event, its impact and the exciting plans for the future, as well as delve into the history of the area and also why New Zealand's flora and fauna is unique.
The Selwyn area is home to many vineyards that thrive on the flat Canterbury plains. Several wines reflect the vibrant qualities of the iconic Waimakariri River that provides a pure and constant water supply. Many of the vineyards in this area are family-run and are the local producers of award winning Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Depending on the season and the weather, your guide will take you to a selection of wineries where you will be able to experience the diverse range of different wines. Having the opportunity to speak to experienced wine operators will provide you with a comprehensive insight into each vineyard.Starting Accommodation:
Day 9 – Christchurch to Queenstown
A driver will meet you at the front entrance of your accommodation to transfer you to the Christchurch Airport where you will fly to Queenstown.
Upon your arrival in Queenstown, you will be met by a heli team who will then fly you to Minaret Station.Minaret Station
Minaret Station is located at the head of a stunningly picturesque glacial valley in the heart of the Southern Alps. Accessible only by helicopter, Minaret Station treats those fortunate enough to experience this wilderness landscape, to a level of comfort and style never before available in the New Zealand Mountains. Guests are hosted in luxuriously furnished Chalets complete with king beds, a private deck set with its own hot tub, full en-suite with double vanity and endless hot showers.Starting Accommodation:
Minaret Station (B, L, D)
Day 10 – Activities at Minaret Station
The small, friendly and experienced Minaret team prides itself in providing guests with an intimate and personalized level of service from the moment that the first inquiry is made.
Guides are on hand to lead informative hikes or leisurely excursions around the lodge area, ranging from a gentle walk to neighboring waterfalls through to more challenging hill climbs from the valley floor. Minaret Station Heli-Adventures allow guests to experience the otherwise inaccessible breath-taking wilderness of the Southern Alps. The options are endless. From scenic flights to heli-biking, Minaret Station's wide range of Heli-Adventures means there is something for everyone. Explore the wilderness of the South Island with the friendly and experienced Minaret Station team.
Using fresh local produce, resident chefs and kitchen staff prepare modern European and Asian Fusion cuisine coupled with an extensive range of local and award-winning wines. Guests can choose to dine in the Mountain Kitchen's dining room, alfresco on the deck or in the privacy of their own chalet. The individual Chalets are separately positioned amongst native alpine grasses and herb fields, each harnessing unique vistas of the valley and surrounds.Starting Accommodation:
Minaret Station (B, L, D)
Day 11 – Minaret Station to Blanket Bay
You will depart Minaret Station and fly over the Southern Alps and Milford Sound, and land on the front lawn of your next lodge, Blanket Bay Lodge.Blanket Bay Lodge
Blanket Bay is situated at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, two miles south of Glenorchy and just 40 minutes from Queenstown. Built in the grand style of the finest alpine lodges, it is finished with native timber and stone. At the heart of the lodge is a 30-foot high Great Room with a massive log fireplace, vaulted wharf-timber beams and antique wooden floors. There are several dining options available; meals may be taken in the main dining room or a private dining room, both with views across the lake and large log burning fires.
Blanket Bay is a haven of comfort - a sanctuary from the outside world. The experience can provide you with endless ways to help restore your physical and spiritual well-being in this enchanted corner of New Zealand.Starting Accommodation:
Day 12 – Dart River Wilderness Safari
The Wilderness Safari takes you on a spectacular 90-minute jet boat journey through the Dart's ever-changing braided river system, where you'll be surrounded by snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys and waterfalls. It includes an easy guided 30 to 40-minute walk through the 'Heritage Trail' at Paradise, where your knowledgeable guide will enliven your walk with an informative and entertaining commentary about the ancient native beech forest, the unique flora and fauna, as well as the fascinating Maori and colonial history of the area. You'll also journey by coach via a scenic back-road route, while hearing stories about the surrounding countryside and stopping to view scenery that has formed the epic backdrop for many international films, including 'The Lord of the Rings'.Starting Accommodation:
Day 13 – Queenstown Exclusively Wine Tour
You will depart Blanket Bay with your luggage and end at Eichardt's Private Hotel after your wine tasting experience. Your wine tour guide will tailor your day around how many wineries you wish to visit and suggest scenic stops along the way. The below is an outline for a typical tour, and can easily be adjusted to suite your tastes.
Heading out of Queenstown, visit the picturesque gold mining village of Arrowtown, with its colonial-style architecture, cute shops and galleries. Then head to Chard Farm Winery: set upon river terraces over- looking the Kawarau River, Chard is arguably the most scenic of the vineyards in the area, known for their Great Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Rieslings.
Then you will head to Gibbston Valley Winery. With New Zealand's largest wine cave, Gibbston Valley has pioneered the development of Pinot Noir in the region and has won numerous awards for their flagship Pinots. A platter lunch is included at Mt Difficulty Winery; a place perched on a hill over-looking the Cromwell basin with spectacular views. Finally, Brennan Wines is the perfect spot for a last glass of wine before returning home.Eichardt's Private Hotel
The distinctive Eichardt's Private Hotel building is Queenstown's waterfront icon and has been for more than 130 years. Recently undergoing a complete renaissance, preserving the historic integrity of the property, Eichardt's is now regarded as the upscale hotel of choice in New Zealand's most popular tourist destination. This private hotel has merged its historic charm with the best of contemporary design. This is combined with the finest accommodation and uncompromising personal service, adding a sophisticated and exclusive new dimension to the choice of accommodation available in Queenstown.Starting Accommodation:
Day 14 – Lakeshore, Forest & Bird - Guided Walk
The best of native flora and bird-life, with magnificent lake and mountain views in an area with its own micro-climate; plants are protected from the elements so species are much larger than elsewhere. Native birds are readily seen and heard, and you'll be introduced to an array of edible and medicinal plants used by Maori & European settlers on this fun half-day walk.Starting Accommodation:
Day 15 – Fly Queenstown to USA
Today a driver will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to transfer you to the Queenstown Airport for your flight back to the USA. (B)